Troup basketball team starts summer workouts
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s back-to-work time for the Troup Tigers.
Troup High’s boys’ basketball team was in the midst of its offseason program when everything was shut down in the middle of March because of the coronavirus.
On Monday, after more than three months apart, the Troup players and coaches were together once again for the start of summer workouts.
“It feels good to be back in here and see everybody for the first time in a long time,” said Tre Scott, one of the seniors on the team. “We’re just working to get better every day.”
Another one of the seniors, K.J. Tucker, said “it feels good to see everybody. Everybody’s been working hard.”
The Tigers are under the direction of Blake Craft, who is heading into his fourth season as Troup’s head coach.
Like the players, Craft was happy to be back in his element, inside the gym while encouraging and leading the players who mean so much to him.
“I love it,” Craft said. “I am pumped. I am ecstatic to be back on campus.”
Among the players in the gym on Monday were seven seniors who have been with Craft since he took over the program before the 2017-2018 season.
Those players are Tre Scott, K.J. Tucker, Ricco Person, Marquavious Kelley, Gabe Stepp, Jekari Ward and Quon Williams.
Craft recalls encouraging those players to stick with the program and hopefully be a part of some good times.
“I had a group of seven and I said I’m going to ride with you, and they’re still here,” Craft said. “I had this core seven, with their personality, and their game. I said y’all are my seven, and they’re still together, and we’re ready to rock ‘n roll.”
The Tigers have advanced to the state tournament three consecutive years, and they won a state game in 2019.
With the seniors returning and with some gifted underclassmen in the fold as well, the possibility is there for the Tigers to do some special things next season.
“I just want everybody to go to their full potential,” Scott said. “We’ve got a lot of good players, a good team. I feel like we can go all the way if we stay together and work hard.”
It helps that the Tigers have a reliable group of seniors, and Scott and Tucker are committed to helping the younger players.
Tucker said the goal is to “just make sure they do right, and learn from my mistakes.”
Scott is aware of the importance of his role as a senior leader.
“I know they look at us as mentors, so we’ve got to be there for them, help them through the whole process,” Tucker said.
If everything comes together, Tucker believes “we can take it far in the playoffs.”
For the moment, the players will be in the gym working on their skills while following the guidelines set forth by the Georgia High School Association.
While the players can use basketballs, scrimmaging isn’t allowed, and Craft is making sure the players keep their distance from each other.
“They want to congregate together and talk,” Craft said. “That’s a family. That’s what you want to see. But you can’t do that right now.”